Joseph Tawadros - The Hour of Separation
SMH Review :
Were Sydney ever to be blessed with a major music festival, Joseph Tawadros's extraordinary ensemble would be its ideal culmination. This local/international collaboration would have to go on last, as other bands would hide, strike or resort to drugs rather than try to follow it.
For "The Hour of Separation" Tawadros and his percussionist brother James went to New York and enlisted three of jazz's heavyweights: drummer Jack DeJohnette, guitarist John Abercrombie and bassist John Patitucci. The results should raise the international profile of Sydney's leading player of the oud (a fretless lute) to the same heights as his art.
Having previously collaborated with local jazz musicians,Tawadros knew that his compositions welcomed the creativity of improvisers coming from backgrounds other than his own in Arabic music. The trick was to pick the right people to respond not just with virtuosity, but with empathy and fire. Tawadros can tick certainly that box.
His oud sound is sumptuous: simultaneously haunting and warm, elegant and earthy. Its fretless nature makes for slippery, sinuous lines on faster runs, but also for a profound melancholy
when played sparsely, especially in the lower register (as on the gorgeous "Fly Away"). His captivating compositions, meanwhile, light inspirational spot-fires under everyone's improvising.
Patitucci disabused many of the notion that he was primarily given to pretty lyricism when here three months ago with Wayne Shorter. Then the visceral intensity of his playing was paramount, as it is here. He does not merely negotiate Tawadros's more fiendish pieces (such as the opening "Phoenix"), he plays them gusto, making the snaking lines plump and dangerous, and soloing with similar vigour and elan.
Abercrombie has always been jazz's most supple guitarist, and that quicksilver quality perfectly suits this music. When he uses distortion the sound is a textural neon light amid the prevailing acoustic glow, but it works, harking back to his playing on the late Colin Walcott's magnificent "Cloud Dance".
Also on that album was DeJohnette, the doyen of jazz drummers, who slots into the off-kilter rhythms with predictable ease, listening hard and detonating accents with his magnificent touch and tones.
That he only plays on four of the 15 tracks would be a profound disappointment were it not for James Tawadros's wizardry ensuring there is no sense of a void. The latter's req (small tambourine) and bendir (frame drum) are all he needs to have a world of sonic and rhythm options literally at his fingertips. Sparks continually fly from James's interaction with his brother and the Americans, including a lively duet with DeJohnette.
This, Tawadros's seventh album, is his finest - a considerable achievement in itself, given the quality of his recent output. The crowning glory would be to hear this band live. Please, sir/madam, may we have a music festival?
John Shand SMH June 2010
Australia’s very own Oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros seems to be a kind of Renaissance man when it comes to recording. With the anticipation of each release there seems to be an air of surprise and mystery, His new release The Hour of Separation is no different.
A musician of the highest calibre, Tawadros continues to tastefully push the boundaries of the Oud, discovering new musical territory through his virtuosity, soulful compositions, and extraordinary vision as a collaborator.
In this highly anticipated record, Joseph and His brother go to New York to team up with three celebrated international jazz luminaries.
Partnering him on this special recording is one of the fathers of jazz guitar, John Abercrombie. Virtuoso bassist John Patitucci; a cornerstone of jazz double bass who’s most notably known for his work with Chick Corea and very Special Guest, Jack DeJohnette. Widely regarded as one of jazz music’s greatest drummers, Jack has performed with such legends as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chet Baker and Thelonious Monk to name a few.
This recording also features the young percussion prodigy James Tawadros, the brother of Joseph and who happens to be a world acclaimed Egyptian percussion master at the tender age of 21. An incredible line-up any way you look at it, and the envy of any jazz musician world wide.
Recorded at Avatar studios in New York earlier this year, the new album features 15 original compositions, 14 composed by Joseph, and 1 track, a duet between the young James and the legendary DeJohnette.
It is a diverse recording which has a great depth of emotion and subtlety, as well as fiery virtuosity and energy. It is a real unique type of world music which seamlessly blends jazz with Egyptian influences into one idiom.